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Evening's Empire - William Knipscher

Evening's Empire

The places where we exist and the objects we encounter have lives independent of our interactions with them – that is, outside their usefulness. Influenced partly by the New Topographics, the images from “Evening’s Empire” focus on the contrast of natural and unnatural, and seek out the moments of transcendence created by the balancing of the two.

Urban environments attempt permanence, and therefore often escape association with decay. But fire, flood and other natural disasters show they are only temporary. Time and nature will defeat the hand of man, and a tree will eventually stop being parking-lot landscaping and start being nature again.

In observing the decay of man-made environments, nature signifies time and the degree of ruin it causes reflects the lifespan of the place. Thus the space is humanized and it is the loneliness of nature’s slow and constant encroachment on that space that becomes paramount. We are a part of our environment and its decline recalls our own.

Although these portraits of places could seem iconic or documentary in feeling, the emphasis is truly on the moment at hand - this light, these weeds, this dirt - and this sense of arrest allows for the technical aspects of the photograph to meet with the conceptual. The composition, light, and isolation are only temporary, and it’s really only in such brief moments that it is possible to observe places as they are.